Biophilia – or the ‘innate human instinct to connect with nature and other living beings’ has long been important in the world of workspace design.
The idea of bringing the outside in is nothing new (we’ve had houseplants for decades) but research suggests, more and more consistently, that there are real benefits to creating a sense of being close to nature while indoors.
From boosted productivity and ability to focus, to an increased sense of well-being among workers, connecting with nature in the smallest of ways can work wonders for our mood, reduce stress, and can help improve overall concentration and productivity by up to 15%.
And, even putting the other benefits aside, in 2022, after an uncertain and unstable couple of years, an increased sense of well-being and hopefulness is something most employees need.
So, how can we capitalise on the science, and work on bringing nature into our offices? We sat down with our Creative Director, Jeanine Goddard, to share some simple and effective ways to do just that.
Using colour to bring the outside in
“When we’re thinking about nature and design, it’s important to remember that our environments are made up of lots of different factors, linked intrinsically to our senses – what we can see, hear, touch, smell and even taste,” says Jeanine. “But, in the workplace, there are certain limitations on what we can influence.
“When you're working on trying to connect with nature to create an environment that feels clear, calm, and focused, colour is one of the key tools at your disposal.
“It’s no secret that, as human beings, our mood, emotions, and even physiology, is affected by the environment we’re in, and I’ve spoken before about how colour plays a huge part in that."
She continues; “First, think about the colours we often find in nature, and what we associate as being natural and connected to the world outside and our wider surroundings.
“Earthy, neutral tones like warm terracotta or a deep beige can help bring a sense of grounding and calm, while using colours like natural blues that remind us of the sea or sky help gain perspective and retain a sense of clarity.
“Green is another powerful colour, as it has strong associations with nature and natural imagery. Think of lush green grass, the bright green of plants and trees, and the deep, dark greens of forests and woodland. It’s often described as a refreshing and tranquil colour, and spending time in natural, green environments (or even looking at pictures of green scenery in nature) has been linked to stress relief, better impulse control, and improved focus.”
Infusing natural colours throughout your workspace
Once you’ve decided on the types of natural colours you want to use to bring a sense of nature to your workspace, it’s time to think about how to implement them,” says Jeanine.
“There are hundreds of ways to work colour into your space – it really all depends on preference and purpose. There are lots of options – from the big-ticket items like painting the walls, choosing the tone and texture of your carpet or flooring wisely, or deciding on the colour of your furniture, to smaller decisions, like using colour sporadically and injecting it wherever you can.”
If you’re working with a smaller space, and not sure how to get started, there’s no need to worry, says Jeanine.
“If your space isn’t huge, make sure to balance neutral tones with any bold natural colours before you start decorating. Are you able to zone a dedicated space by painting feature walls? Or how about laying rugs or hanging curtains, rather than going all out with one colour.
“Then, think about your accents – can you add imagery of nature onto the walls, introduce cushions or soft furnishings in earthy tones, or even bring something like a water feature or fish tank into the space to add another dimension? Remember, the changes don’t have to be huge to have a considerable impact.
Jeanine continues; “Another easy win is to make sure you’ve got plenty of greenery in all areas of your workspace. If you’re worried about keeping them alive, there are lots of great artificial plants that will bring the boost of colour you’re looking for, without any of the fear of forgetting to water them.
“And don’t forget to make use of the actual nature available to you and the mirage of colour that brings. That might mean placing some comfy seating by a big window or making sure you’re letting in as much natural light into your workspace as possible.”
Finally, try not to overthink the process, says Jeanine. “By working out what natural colours you’d like to feature in your workspace – considering the impact different shades can have on mood – and then finding subtle ways to incorporate them, making use of as much natural opportunity as you can – you won’t go far wrong in bringing the outside in.”